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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Aposematic Crypticism

Like other insects that sequester toxins in their bodies, this milkweed bug (Oncopeltus faciatus) displays bright red/orange contrasting with black that advertises its foul flavor to would-be predators who, the theory goes, avoid eating the gaudy bugs. In this setting the bug's patterned coloration has also camouflaged it pretty well against the same-colored milkweed flower buds. Last fall, I saw one of these bugs on one of the 10 or so milkweed plants. Today, there were three bugs, all on the same north-most plant in the parkway. If (when) the little bugs arrive, I shall hopefully observe the rate at which the next generation migrates in a miniature way, across the 50 foot span of my parkway (which would be south) or away altogether (which would be any other direction).

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